In what was definitely the worst kept secret in Formula One, Sauber and Ferrari agreed to a driver swap, implying young Charles Leclerc will be driving for Ferrari 2019 onwards while Kimi Raikkonen agreed for a multi year deal with Sauber for 2019 and 2020.
This was earlier reported with Raikkonen rumoured to not only drive for Sauber, but also take part ownership in the team. He announced his move with a very special instagram post:
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A post shared by Kimi Räikkönen (@kimimatiasraikkonen) on
Earlier in the day, Ferrari and Sauber in a series of tweets confirmed the driver swap. The decision is rumoured to have finalized even before Monza, but the announcement definitely took time.
✒️ #WelcomeKimi 🖋️
We're delighted to announce that #kimi7 will be joining us for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
— Alfa Romeo Racing (@alfaromeoracing) September 11, 2018
While it may confuse many as to why Raikkonen is choosing to go from a potential race winning team to a lower midfield team, somehow it makes perfect sense. In this way, Raikkonen will keep racing, which Ferrari would be wanting in case Leclerc doesn’t live up to the potential.
Sauber team as well, with the backing of Alpha Romeo (Ferrari’s sister company) has risen from the ground to regularly challenge for points. It currently stands 9th in the championship, but is expected to grow next year with further funding and now at the hands of 2007 champion, Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen can also be used to help develop the Sauber team’s potential. He did the same thing when he came out of a sabbatical to race for Lotus in 2012. That year, he went on to finish 3rd in the championship. Who knows, maybe he can propel Alfa Romeo-Sauber up the order.
It is also kind of poetic to see the veteran Finn return to the team that he debuted with. Sauber have also produced several talented drivers like Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Nick Heidfeld, Giancarlo Fisichella, Robert Kubica, Sebastian Vettel, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Pascal Wehrlein and even LeClerc himself.